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genre song inspired on this forum


blue2blue

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Well... all my songs are genre songs... :D

 

But, anyhow, earlier today I was commenting on the lyrics for this song: http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1616636 posted by PJMPirate and thinking about road songs...

 

Now... it's been months since I wrote a song so this is kind of a big deal to me -- so even though I came up with a whole different kind of song, I just wanted to give my due and proper respect to PJMPirate -- and say thanks again for helping to spark my own stalled creative processes.

 

Anyhow, here are some links to a recording I just made (and mind you this is VERY ROUGH recorded within a couple hours after I started writing it -- and I definitely have some concerns, to be sure*):

 

mid-fi 64k stream

1.6 MB 64k download

And here's a hi-er fi stream:

hi fi 192k stream

192k download

[not necessarily keeper quality, mind you ;) ]

 

and here are the lyrics:

 

[This one's for PJM Pirate!]

 

A Land So Far Away

 

I was born so long ago

between some forgotten wars

times were different then I know

it's the one thing that's for sure

 

There were cows across the road

I can still feel the dairy smell

where it's only houses now

and they stretch all the way to hell

 

and back then I never thought

I would ever hit the road

but before I knew what was what

there was nowhere else to go

ch and right now I know I want

to find this place called home

I don't know where it is

and I don't know where to go

 

I was born between some wars

between the mountains and the shore

in a land so far away

you just cant

get there anymore

 

I saw the world there's a lot to see

and sure I was impressed

lots of hope lots of fear

and lots of girls undressed

 

lots of bar rooms lots of dreams

lots of lifelong friends

lots of pals you'll always love

and never see again

 

ch right now I know I want to find...

 

 

I was born so long ago

between some forgotten wars

times were different then

it's the one thing that's for sure

 

and back then I never thought

I would ever hit the road

but before I knew what was what

there was nowhere else to go

 

ch and right now I know I want

to find this place called home

I don't know where it is

and I don't know where I have to go

 

I was born between some wars

between the mountains and the shore

in a land so far away

you just cant

get there anymore

 

©2007, TK Major

 

 

 

* Aforementioned concerns - the first part of the refrain/chorus may be, uh, "too archtypal" -- but I'm thinking it's pretty much precisely what the character wants to say. I'm letting it cook in my subconscous... but then my subconscious IS pretty archtypal.

 

Also, it's worth saying that I'm painfully aware of the lapses and the singing and the, ha ha, you should pardon the expression, harmony. Such as it is. Anyhow... just wrote it and all that rot, eh, what?

 

 

Here's the promo image I found (in a public library image collection, although it needed subtantial retouching) to post with the song in my podcast/blog:

 

ALandSoFarAway.jpg

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Thanks, man!

 

Lately it's taken a powerful lot of inspiration to get me off the dime, writing-wise. Big dept of gratitude...

 

The recording is SUPER rough... singing is, uh, mighty shaky (and the harmonies... oh my :eek: !) But I hope it brings the lyrics to life a little... (gotta work on that one wraparound line "hell and back" though... it could be a hook but right now it's a bit of a stumble)...

 

Anyhow, now don't you forget to finish your OWN road song! I wanna find out what happens to that guy!

 

:D

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That was very enjoyable, I'm glad you posted it. I really like the line "between some forgotten wars". It felt pretty epic in my opinion. I think if you keep working on this one it could be be a very big feeling song. I feel the potential for a buildup that could be very impacting. Keep working on it, I'm looking forward to see it keep growing.

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Yeah... I like those elemental kind of images... forgotten wars, mountains, sea... red satin hotpants... no, wait. Skip the hotpants. That's for my funk song.

 

For me the image of the mountains and the sea is emblematic or Southern California -- without having the baggage that specific place names have.

 

If you fly into LA you really get a feel for the peculiar geography... the flat coastal plain and the mountains jutting up suddenly.

 

In another song I used a similar phrase: "From the mountains to the ocean / from the birthplace to the grave..." (although that song was tied very specifically to place names... the specific lines were: "All around Long Beach and all the way to LA / the shattered lives are scattered / and their hearts are spiked up on staves / from the ocean to the mountains / from the birthplace to the grave / once you behold her, nothing will ever be the same." The song is, of course, about heroin, though drugs are never really mentioned.)

 

 

I also had, in the back of my head, an image pretty close to the orange crate image I used to promo this... there was a very short time right after WWII when So Cal still looked like that in a lot of places... and even though the house I lived in is now surrounded by houses that go pretty well solid from those mountains to the sea, for the first 4 or 5 years I lived there, there was dairy land at the end of my block, just 5 houses away... open land dotted with the occasional farmhouse or barn and it streched 15 miles from the county seat down to where the rich folks kept their sailboats at Balboa. (They didn't call it Newport, then.)

 

(I drive by that old house every few years... I remember the tearful day I left it when I was about 12... we were moving to more upscale suburbs... and it's really that house and my feelings about it -- at least in some ways -- that are at the core of this song.)

 

 

Anyhow, I'm still hashing this one out.

 

I fooled around with it some more earlier today and cut a version with strummed guitar, which has a bit more momentum and dynamics. But I can tell it's not really shookdown yet. And the freakin' thing came out to be 4-1/2 minutes long, somehow. It was probably too lont at 3-1/2 minutes (the version above).

 

I gotta bang on the fit and feel, some.

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Hmm... yeah. I'm big on parallel construction (perhaps obviously -- all those "betweens" and so forth) and colloquial speech but... hmm... yeah. I think I used "lots" because it had an everyday lackadaisicality to it and I wanted the guy to seem kind of blase.

 

That line had actually been "lots of hope, lots of fear / lots of whores undressed" -- which was precisely the image I wanted... but I was afraid the damn word is too loaded now and would distract from the overall song... Not sure that that would have mitigated the lots of lots conundrum.

 

I'm gonna have to let my brain roll around in that for awhile...

 

Thanks!

 

 

PS... I'm sure everyone tells you this but... nice avatar!

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Yeah. I certainly meant prostitutes. I liked that contrast with hope and fear... I wanted to suggest something disconnected.

 

But "girls" makes him a little more sympathetic. Which is not where I was going with the verse but helps sell the song as a whole -- after all, ultimately, you're asking the listener to care about this guy on some kind of level.

 

 

BTW... for some idiotic reason when I was processing your "lots and lots" comment I only looked at the first of the two "lots" verses... oh my gosh. Yeah... 8 "lots" in 8 sentences (I double up a couple and skip a couple)...

 

I was just trying yet a third recording of it and every time I hit that section I stopped (ltierally, unfortunately) and thought about that...

 

NOW that you pointed it out it sticks out like a sore thumb, yet the little intuition/artist/writer guy in my head is sitting there and saying, No, that's the way I wrote it and it sounds right to me. There's no problem no matter what those people in the songwriting BB say.

 

But, hey, EIGHT freakin' times. I try not to write by number and do what I feel and what sounds right but my conscious mind/internal editor is with YOU... that's just got to be too many "lots"...

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for some idiotic reason when I was processing your "lots and lots" comment

 

The thing in your favor is that the word isn't in your rhyme scheme and so it tends to pass by harmlessly. I would maybe change one or two of 'em in the middle if you can - maybe if you say "many barrooms, many dreams, a string of lifelong friends"(?). I"m not quite awake yet here, bear with me ;)

 

But you know, if you feel strongly that you ought to go with your first instinct then by all means do that.

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First pass through, I didn't mind the lots of "lots" so there's a different perspective for you.

 

I liked this song, and it has a kind of "classic" feel to it. I think a real good live take of it could be perfect. I was surprised that I liked it, actually, but I really do. I think the lyrics, which I haven't studied in detail, are a strength. I am puzzled by how you can "feel" a smell, and I know sometimes you have to choose the word that fits. I don't know if I can agree with that one though.

 

I agree with "girls" and not "whores". You already know what a lot of girls undressed means, no need to land that loaded word on us. Good choice.

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Thanks for the insights, guys!

 

Yeah, I was wrestling around with the lots of lots last night... I'm still not there yet. I'm not thinking it's going to be much of a problem, one way or the other.

 

 

On the feel the smell... you ain't never been to the dairy, have you? :D

 

 

But, yeah, I worried about that. I'm hoping folks will, like you, figure I used it for a reason.

 

But it does highlight the issue. There was a time when most or at least Americans probably knew just what it meant to be downwind from a dairy.

 

The ammonia/nitrogen/manure smell could be really intense.

 

 

But, you know, I'm gonna have to see if folks tend to get that or if it ends up being a distraction.

 

Like I'm now convinced the word "whores" would have been. I was a bit torn, there, since I think it's a perfectly good, historic, resonant word for prostitute... but like a lot of folks I'm pretty darn annoyed by the use of it and its derivatives when they're used to simply refer to any woman or girl. So, ultimately, I think it's worth softening the meaning of the song a bit to avoid that trap and distraction.

 

Thanks for the advice and insights, guys!

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If you really want prostitutes, maybe you could go with:

 

I saw the world there's a lot to see

and sure I was impressed

lots of hope lots of fear

and prostitutes undressed

 

You get rid of one "lots" and you get your prostitutes. For my money, though, I'm not sure you need prostitutes. Adding the prostitutes gives the seedy transactions of life a spot there, but it's not a bold or new observation, so I wouldn't necessarily crash the parallelism for it. It might be a good spot for a parallelism break though, since the next verse carries on, and the "lots' of the previous line can carry its meaning over. This gives the added bonus of conflating fear and prostitutes, (which sounds like a Hunter S. Thompson essay title..)

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Great lyrics and imagery. A possible solution to lots of lots?

 

 

I saw the world there's a lot to see

and sure I was impressed

lots of hope lots of fear

and lots of girls undressed

 

"shots at bar rooms, shots at dreams

plots of lifelong friends

lots of pals you'll always love and never see again"

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Hmm... interesting.

 

I'm not sure the "ots" internal rhyme (or whatever that would be) is all that crucial but this sure upholds it.

 

I'm gonna mush this all up in my head over the next couple days and see what comes out.

 

Thanks so much for the continuing help!

________________________

 

Update:

 

I don't think I'll be using this but I was thinking about that second suggested verse and I thought:

 

"shots in bar rooms, shots at dreams

shots of lifelong friends

lots of pals you'll always love and never see again"

 

Three different uses of "shots"... but... too clever, probably, and just a little too far off the original beam. But it's fun to play around with...

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You know, that's what I think about lyrics -- they're only part of a song. An important part, often as not. Sometimes the most important part. But part, nonetheless.

 

Sure... some lyrics really do stand on their own as literature/poetry. Sadly, though (perhaps), you won't find too many of those in my ratty gig bag.

 

I'm afraid I'm more in the "I'm so lonesome I could cry" camp -- though I'll never be able to reach high enough to touch the bottom hem of the saintly robes of Hank Williams (laboring high above me, as Leonard Cohen would have it, in The Tower of Song)... but, yeah, all too often to me, too, my lyrics look flat and bland on the page.

 

But I do try to build the little things into them that make the words come alive with the music, internal rhythms, alliterations, parallel constructions, even puns.

 

 

BTW... here's a much different version that's a somewhat more developed and a little more visceral, being flatpicked -- but no less rough, I'm afraid.

 

Still, I think it's more where I want to go:

 

play link (192 kbps): http://www.ayearofsongs.org/ayearofsongs/mmedia/2007-05-04_AYoS_A_Land_So_Far_Away.m3u

blog entry: http://www.ayearofsongs.org/ayearofsongs/index.html

 

ALandSoFarAway2.jpg

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I think I like the starting guitar better on the first one but that might just be because I got used to it. It feels a little sparse to me, maybe if there were some drums it would work better for me. The harmonies are much better this time around. I think you might could have expanded on the guitar part at about 2:18 instead of going back into the chorus. Other than that, it didn't seem like too much was dramatically changed, sounds good though. Keep it up.

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Thanks, odddest! Yeah... it's still got a ways to go... this version is actually edited down to cut out the parts of the first verse I'd repeated (I was horrified to find the unedited recording of this ver was over 4-1/2 minutes long... way too long for such a slim song -- at least 'til the version with the London Philharmonic and Boys Choir... :D )

 

The fleshed-out, "produced" version is coming soon, I think. I've started working on the MIDI framework for it. (Although this will likely not end up as one of my more "folktronic" tracks. I think I'll go for a naturalistic sound.)

 

I think I'm going to use this new version as the basic model for feel, using mostly (or all) acoustic guitars and try to capture the feel of the first chorus when the harmony comes in... it's kind of shocking, almost (maybe I'm just shocked that my vox aren't even more out of pitch) but I like the feel... it's kind of eery and I sort of want that... I want that feeling of dislocation... that I ain't got no home in this world anymore feel...

 

 

With regards to the vocal backups on these... I probably should have waited to post either but, frankly, it had been so long since I'd written something new -- and the song was inspired on this board, that I sort of got carried away. The vox are rough. Bigtime. A sketch, to be generous.

 

And a big part of that is that I'm only now, in my twighlight years, trying to push myself into learning how to harmonize. It's always seemed so completely beyond my capabilities and ken... I know that sounds odd to people who grew up singing. I didn't. No one heard me sing outloud until college. And by then -- it was too late. :D

 

For years I was content to stay safely inside the Dylan-Jagger-Bowie vector. But lately I've been realizing how much I love some harmony singing. And even during the harmony drenched excesses of the 70s and early 80s, there was stuff I knew I loved. But, whether it was streetcorner doo wop or that paint-peeling mountain harmony, it all seemed so unattainable.

 

But, you know, I can either plow in now or I can go to my grave knowing I had every opportunity to learn, every tool necessary to pursue the craft to make a kind of music I really love and, yet, I threw it away because I didn't want to embarrass myself.

 

Happily, fear of embarrassment is the first childhood phobia I threw away when I decided to find myself three and a half decades ago. Still looking... :)

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